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2018 Los Angeles Rams Roster Preview: EDGE Justin Lawler and the Rams’ need greed at linebacker

The Rams’ softest unit on their depth chart is nearly unanimously the linebacker position. That means good things for the depth like drafted rookie Justin Lawler.

Navy v SMU Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Los Angeles Rams EDGE Justin Lawler has received quite a bit of attention so far this offseason. Surprisingly, it has been all positive being highlighted as a standout in rookie camp and organized team activities. He soon found himself receiving first team reps at the edge rusher position and drew high praise from Head Coach Sean McVay and Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips.

I on the other hand am not buying it. I think he is still buried on the depth chart and they needed bodies, and he had a body. As one of the last selections of the 2018 NFL Draft, Lawler is looking up at the roster in all likelihood.

Offseason praise or not.

Roster Battle

The Rams have a lot of bodies at the edge. The issue in the spring is that they were not healthy bodies, so you have a climb to the top of the depth chart for Lawler. Now with time off and a healthier roster, I question how many reps we will see him take with the first team. EDGE Matt Longacre and EDGE Samson Ebukam are pretty much locks to start. Fellow rookie EDGE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo figures to get the first crack as the primary backup after missing time with a broken foot assuming he doesn’t siphon a starting role first himself. That leaves Lawler battling it out with Ejuan Price, Garrett Sickels (roster preview) and Trevon Young.


On film in college at SMU, Lawler was a hustle rusher. He worked really hard, but he was not special for his individual skills. A decent motor with good effort is his specialty. I do question his special teams value considering he is not much of an athlete, and open field tackling may not be his thing. His competition is not much better, but they are better athletes.

I expect him to have some decent moments where he shines in the preseason late in games against the third team guys.

Chances of making roster (6/10)

His chances are decent as the ACL injury suffered by Morgan Fox plays in his favor. As I expect the Rams to keep four edge guys with five being a possibility, I think his chances of making it are slightly above 50%.